Stone: Report from the Georgia Senate

By Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro

ATLANTA  – Next week marks Crossover Day for the General Assembly, and my colleagues and I are working diligently and quickly to meet this deadline.  We passed four bills on Monday, ranging from honoring veterans with proper burials to protecting law enforcement officers and aircrafts from laser beams.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed my substitute for SB 365.  This bill seeks to clarify what is viewed as the unlawful practice of law during real estate closings. This includes preparing deeds of conveyance, facilitating or supervising the execution of deeds of conveyance and the disbursement of the funds necessary to close a real estate transaction. Under the bill, consumers harmed by the unlawful practice of law will have the right to sue offenders.  The bill passed with a vote of 52-0.  It now travels to the House.

Four other bills were passed in the Senate on Tuesday. These included SB 293 which allows drivers to place the words “In God We Trust” on Georgia license plates at no additional charge, and SB 371 allowing local governments to enter into cooperative agreements with community improvement districts for the enhancement of airports and landing fields.

As a member of the Education and Youth Committee, we passed out SB 452 on Tuesday. This bill would allow the Governor, on the post-hearing recommendation of the State Board of Education, to suspend local school board education members if the school system or a school in the system is placed on the lowest level of accreditation for issues related to school board governance.

The committee also favorably reported SB 364 on limiting the use of standards-based grading systems.  These grading systems make it difficult to distinguish between students who excel academically and focus solely on the mastery of minimum standards. Standards-based reporting would still be used in the first through third grades.

SB 502 also passed the committee.  It seeks to replace the Georgia Charters School Commission with the Georgia Charter Schools Advisory Commission.

Wednesday ended the eighth legislative week with 15 bills on the floor for debate. I’d like to highlight SB 321, which I co-sponsored; this bill will help deter thieves from stealing and selling metal. This has been a major problem that has affected insurers, homeowners, churches, farmers and the others alike.

I’m glad to be able to let my constituents know that your voices have been heard and the bill passed with a vote of 44-5. As passed, the bill included an amendment I proposed to make it easier to prosecute metal thieves under Georgia’s take oath law.

SB 430 which adjusted local senate district lines passed the Senate on Tuesday and now moves to the House for approval.  This bill extends the 24th District, whose seat is now held by Sen. Bill Jackson, into northern Richmond County. This move will strengthen the Richmond County legislative delegation by increasing its number from seven to eight members.  It will also further integrate Richmond and Columbia counties and facilitate greater regional cooperation in metro Augusta.

As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback. Please contact me with your concerns via e-mail, phone or Face Book.

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